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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Goal of Religion...

Been a bit held up since my last post... This should have been published long back. Nevertheless, I will come straight to the point. A disclaimer- this post may seem to contradict what I have said earlier. ;) But, as I always say; discussions welcome. :)

Reflections, amidst the on-going [so called] training stuff; "All religions lead to the same goal", is a concept widely subscribed by many educated people. I feel that this notion needs to be enquired into and understood.
If all religions have a well-defined and common goal, the difference would be purely cultural (A post on 'Culture' is pending; I will publish it soon). Difference in culture is totally acceptable, to any thinking person (a la 
René DescartesCogito, ergo sum
; I think, therefore I am). If all the religions have an identical intent, will there be any religious issue that necessitates a discussion? But then, what is the truth of the statement "All religions lead to the same goal"?

If ethical values constitute the goal of religion, certainly there is a singular goal adopted by all religions, the ethical values being universal. I raise questions here- should any person be religious to be ethical? Is there a need to be educated by religious scriptures alone to know what is ethical and what is not? Is it not true that any normal/sane human being is well informed about universal values? From the aboriginal in the outback of Australia, to the Zulus in Africa, to the pandit in India and to the Pope in Rome- for starters, they share at least this value; not getting hurt at the hands of  the other! That others also do not want to get hurt from him/her is also very well known to them. Other values like honesty, compassion, sharing, etc. are equally known facts. Ipso facto, they form the moral infrastructure for human interaction, not only with one another but also with other organisms that inhabit this world. This value-knowledge is born of human common sense. When there is this faculty of choice for a human being, there should be a matrix of norms known to him for making the right, rather appropriate, choice(s). If the human being is totally programmed, there will be no such thing as right or wrong in human behaviour. Without religious masters and religious scriptures preaching about right and wrong, one is very well informed about them. Therefore, ethical values cannot constitute the goal of any religion; for one can be ethical without being religious in anyway.

On the other hand, some religions take away the universality of these common-sense-born values by giving sanction to the killing of those who do not conform to their beliefs and who articulate their non-conformity. That the common-sense-born ethics are better off, without any interference by religion, is really a cause for sadness. In fact, religion should confirm the universal values as most of them do. The Vedic religion adds strength to the value-structure by introducing punya (virtue) and paap (sin) for actions that are right and wrong. Many other popular religions also introduce this element of reward and punishment. Suppose the goal for all religions is just reward or punishment, we may be able to say that all religions have the same goal despite the differences in these rewards and punishments.

Theology
differs from religion to religion. The concept of the reality of God, this world and ‘you’ is again thought of differently. More often, God is looked upon as a judgmental person located in a place yonder; albeit He is considered as an embodiment of all the attributes we associate with Him. Reaching that place and living with Him is the goal. Neither the Vedic religion nor Buddhism will accept this as a goal. A devout Christian will not accept any goal other than reaching heaven as promised by his scripture. Here again, it comes to mind, what does the statement that "All religions lead to the same goal" mean?
For a
 vaidika (someone under the direction of Vedic instrustions) who accepts with total understanding that this world including one's body-mind-sense complex is the Lord's manifestation, any form of prayer and worship is valid. Every name and form is valid enough to invoke the Lord, the Lord being every name and form. But prayer- mental, oral or ritualistic- is karma, and capable of producing a result. The given result is not the goal of religions much less the goal of any individual even if one thinks so. The goal of an informed vaidika is freedom from a sense of limitation centered on 'I'. Can there be an ultimate goal for a human being other than this? The freedom, moksha/nirvaana, from this sense of limitation is the human goal.

The Vedas say that the sense of limitation is due to one not knowing oneself. Then, it is obvious that the human goal is Self-knowledge/realization. The theologies of various world religions do not have anything to do with this goal. They are committed to their own beliefs even though they are non-verifiable and more often than not, unreasonable. They have a right to have their beliefs which do not have any space for accommodating other religious goals. But these beliefs are not acceptable to the thinking individual. They are not acceptable to a person who understands moksha either. So, all that a vaidika can say is "All forms of prayer are valid". Being an act, karma, each prayer can produce a limited result. One wants a limited result in life too (Isn't this contradicting to saying, our wants are unending?). But it can never be the goal of religion...


I hope I have not hurt any religious sentiments here. Please feel free to correct me if I have erred anywhere. I am not someone overtly erudite with the Vedas. What I have penned down here is a result of the odd discussion I have had with people, and what I have gathered after reading various articles. Yes, I am still a confused soul… One article, I talk about Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa practicing the major religions et al, and now- this… ;)

36 comments:

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

I don't think religion is a necessity to be ethical.Ethical values are inherent while religion is inculcated.

Kartz said...

Yeah... That thought struck me too, while writing this. Thanks for the feedback, buddy.

verbivore said...

Ive been thinking of "religion" to be my next topic & you have inspired me to get out of my block! I would say hinduism is not a religion but a culture that has evolved over the centuries and the vedas as classic literary works of genius! there wasnt another religion then u knw! but yeah in a wide wide sense you can see all religion has one goal - lead an ideal life, attain salvation/moksha. At the end of the day each religion is nothing but the efforts of great prophets to help their people lead a better life!

descrying the shadows said...

Why do you always come back to square 1 ?
he he .. 1) religion is a way to live life , the path to reach god is more like an incentive to live life by those guidelines .. again the incentives are diff.. or the way you put it " what they lead to "..
but the intent of these incentives is the same .. to motivate people to live their life by those guidelines ...
why certain religions have lost it in todays world is not because of what they preach .. but what is being preached under their aegis..

Kartz said...

@verbivore
Hmmm... Thought provoking.

Kartz said...

@descrying the shadows
It's not about coming back to square 1, bro'... Just that I let my mind flow whenever I think of this topic, and lo! I have something to write about... :D

preeti said...

I feel religion is juat a way to stream line human beings. Nothin more than that. Our driver uncle, a christian, was telling me that Christians really care for everyone in the world. They hold mass prayers all sundays for well being of each and every individual in this world. All the family relatives gather under one roof and pray. They dont attack god with their personal problems. I was quite impressed.
Myself, born an Iyer, when at trichy on sundauys, climd malakotai and on the way back attend the morning mass at St Joseph s church. So i feel it all depends on the individual.Religion is being followed for own own soul satisfaction. Yes, I read two chapters of Gita today, Yes, I attend the morning prayer, I am gettin ready for namaas and so on... Moksha or salvation comes automatically, if we do good to others atleast by not hurting others.
err... comment framed in bits and pieces. try to fix it together :)thought flow and word flow harly ever meet :)

Priya said...

Religion is a spoon full of sugar for our own satisfaction. It doesn't matter what ever religion people say, finally we are still humans only.

Kartz said...

@Preeti
:D

Kartz said...

@Priya
Indeed... :)

Ani said...

heheh well well i dont think u have hurted any one's religious sentiments.. it should be just taken as ur point of view.. which btw is very good enough to have a debate :)

yaaaayy so here we go..

why do we have to say it as religion.. why cant we just leave it as one's faith or belief.. now once thats cleared.. so why ethical?? (this is my take aheemmm clearing throat )..

honesty, compassion, sharing.. are virtues.. which comes from with in.. it can also be said as the identity of the person.. or one's character.. dont know why thats again being tied up to religion..

Everything in this world has got its limitation.. its knowing the limitations and making that into maximum use that would be fruitful.. the self realisation which is what one after is something to do with one's goals , ambitions.. faith .. belief.. how ever you wanna name it..
if thats one's religion so be it :)

Kartz said...

@Ani
:)

"why do we have to say it as religion"
--- hmmm, today religion is being used interchangeably with faith, belief. Pity...

"dont know why thats again being tied up to religion.."
--- never meant to tie it up with religion dear. Hope u dint take it tht way. I just tried to assert, if one can be ethical of his own (by observation, etc.), there is no need for him to be preached by religion.

Hmmm... Self realization goes well beyond wht u ve said buddy. And yeah, one has to know the limitations... But how many know it?

Peace. :)

Ani said...

i think that comes with the realization.. unless one has the realization .. one wouldnt know about the limitation.. its all interconnected you see..

Kartz said...

:) Thts there too...

Priya Joyce said...

I don't think tat ethics and religion are connected.
religion is a completely personal affair and it doesn't give any legalization on the stamp about ethics

Richa said...

Personally, I aint a devotee, but yes I have always loved God and believed in Him. any one may find it amusing, I talk to him as I am talkin to a close friend, I may not know, may not understand what the depth of our mythology is, my grandparents have been succesful a li'l in instilling me with the stories of Sri Ram, Sri Krishna.
To me religion is what emlightens us to th truths of life..
if u have ever opened a Ramayana, u must know there is one prashnavali provided and wat ever question u have u can ask n make out a doha as an answer to it..
it provides explanations to all the mystries of life..
All religions have the same goal, i do not agree totally..
u have already stated.. all religions say god is one, then y do have so many religions existing?
"If the human being is totally programmed, there will be no such thing as right or wrong in human behaviour."
Thats ryt i agree.. but i guess religion and ethics are related.
ethics is wat our consciense is, and our consciense is framed by the forsces of the society we grow up in. our family educates us, they instill in us the values, they tell us how to worship, how to pray..
they tell us about paap and punya, and though of the fear of getting punished, as kids we dont commit wats is wrong, and tht fear becomes habit and we refrain from doin those things and also instill the same habits in our nexter genrations..

Kartz said...

@Priya Joyce
That's what I have tried to say, too... One does need to learn ethics/moral from religion.

Kartz said...

@Richa
"All religions have the same goal, i do not agree totally.."
--- Hmmm... Try reading this;
http://kartzonline.blogspot.com/2008/09/religion.html

"u have already stated.. all religions say god is one, then y do have so many religions existing?"
--- Am I the [only] one you shd direct the question at? ;) Truth is one... It is being interpreted differently...

I wont say religion and ethics are related... One does not need religion to teach you basic morals and ethics. Just be a human... Look at most of the [sensible] atheists. Are they base in their actions? They don't believe in God; but does that mean their behaviour, otherwise, is unethical..?

Thanks for the feedback. :)

Peace.

Richa said...

I said i donot agree tht all religions have same goals..
and for the rest part, lemme read the post you have provided me with, and i shall revert back :D

Kartz said...

Hmmm... See, don't tell me 'all' religions speak of peace... :D Love, ok... Peace? I think not...

Divya said...

nice post there mate... religion and ethics may or may not be related. for some one, who is a staunch believer and very god fearing, wrong is a sin and he will refrain from doing something unethical.. i myself am a believer of what you do will be done unto you for i believe that God exists and He sees everything. but then again, like you have pointed out yourself, all atheists are not unethical people. true. and that's a good thing. but most god fearing people believe in following the right path... all i'm saying is religion is a means of learning and discovering. what is written in religious granthas etc is not rubbish. it is true and had stood the test of time and will be applicable in every sphere of life. religion is but another means of attaining mental peace or mokshaa or whatever you may call it. doesn't mean there aren't other means but for the uninitiated, religion provides a way. the problem arises when people fight over the supremacy of a religion. people should be left to follow which ever religion they have embraced. incentives on following a religion, denouncing other religions, etc is what creates problems. the purpose of religion is thus defeated.

Kartz said...

@Divya
Indeed...

:-) Thank you for your time! Topics like these perk me up...

Emaan said...

for me religion is love.. in its purest form. im proof of it.. mom's a muslim, dad's a hindu... i never felt any different.
nice post.

Emaan said...

for me religion is love.. in its purest form. im proof of it.. mom's a muslim, dad's a hindu... i never felt any different.
nice post.

ANWESA said...

i still think all religion aim to attain the same godliness.only the permutation n combo is different.

Kartz said...

@emaan

Welcome to Contorted Reality... Wonderful to hear what you just said. Period. :)

Looking forward to your next visit...

Peace.

Kartz said...

@Anwesa
Hmmm... Dunno buddy. Can you elaborate on that?

Homer Simpson! said...

I swear I will kill myself if I happen to think this much at any point in my life.

I am unbiased.

Cheers!!

Kartz said...

@homer simpson
Hmmm... At least you are unbiased! Good to know that... Heh heh heh, I have heard thinking too much isn't good for the health. ;-) *sigh*

Welcome to Contorted Reality... Do drop in again.

Ayushi said...

not agreed-although im a self-declared aitheist.
the one goal is only and only the understanding of nature, no, maybe not understanding, but of following nature. 'following' is the biggest irony in religion. its contradictory. religion was meant to do this, that it could not, is another matter!
one thing leads to another, and a single right thing, will lead to all the others.
I do not think anything can be good or bad, they can only be right and wrong. simple.

V. Archana said...

very well put forth :)

Kartz said...

@Ayushi
Ahem... :P" May be... Religion was meant to make people follow Nature... May be... From what I know, that is how Pagan beliefs came to the fore. Eg; Wicca

Right/wrong, good/bad are relative... Simple.

Thanks, and welcome to Contorted Reality.

Kartz said...

@Archana
Thank you, and welcome to Contorted Reality!

verbivorehere said...

thou art blogrolled :)

Kartz said...

Gratias... :) I noted it already. ;)

Kartz said...

Planning to post this on D & K...

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